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School Improvement

School Improvement

CASE School Climate Survey

Since the creation of the original Breaking Ranks recommendations more than 15 years ago, significant strides have been made toward achieving the program's goal of making schools more student centered by personalizing programs and support systems and meeting the intellectual challenges of each student. Today, this body of knowledge and experience makes up what is known as the Breaking Ranks Framework: a comprehensive framework for school improvement that can support all schools in the K–12 continuum.

One Framework for Responsible K–12 School Improvement
How can one framework for school improvement work equally well in schools of different grade levels? The attractiveness of the Breaking Ranks Framework is that it does not prescribe a specific model that a school must follow, but rather builds upon the individual school’s data to assess strengths and identify needs so that a customized plan for school success can be developed.

What Needs to Improve?
Regardless of grade level, all schools must address the three core areas of collaborative leadership (CL); personalizing your school environment (PER); and curriculum, instruction, and assessment to improve student performance (CIA). Only by addressing each of these three overlapping areas can improved student performance occur.

At the foundation of this interconnected Breaking Ranks Framework lie nine cornerstones that should guide implementation of improvement initiatives. These are the foundational concepts upon which the Breaking Ranks Framework is built:

  • Leadership
  • Professional Development
  • Culture
  • Organization
  • Curriculum
  • Instruction
  • Assessment
  • Relationships
  • Equity.
  • How Do We Improve Our School?
    School improvement requires more than a great idea. Transformations do not take place until the culture of the school permits it—and no long-term, significant change can take place without creating a culture to sustain that change. The Breaking Ranks Framework provides a well-defined process that helps to foster a culture of excellence and continuous improvement within your school.

    The process consists of six stages:

    • Gather and analyze data to determine priorities
    • Explore possible solutions
    • Assess readiness and build capacity
    • Create and communicate improvement plan
    • Implement the plan
    • Monitor and adjust.

    Do You and Your Team Have What It Takes to Create a Culture for School Improvement?
    One person alone cannot reach each student and help each student succeed. The Framework requires leaders who are able to lead in many different ways and in numerous circumstances. Principal, teacher, and student leadership are invaluable to the effort. Collaboration within grade levels, across grade levels, and across schools provides the backbone for the sustainability of the Framework.

    Principals and other school leaders must look within themselves to ensure that they have the necessary skills, attitudes, and mind-sets to lead improvment. To assist this effort, the Framework identifies the 10 skills that encompass the bulk of what school leadership entails:

    Setting instructional direction Organizational ability
    Teamwork Oral communication
    Sensitivity Written communication
    Judgment Developing others
    Results orientation
    Understanding own strengths and weaknesses

    Start Your School-Improvement Journey Today
    There are many challenges that differ between elementary level, middle level, and high schools, yet the Breaking Ranks Framework is comprehensive and flexible enough to implement at all levels. The Breaking Ranks Framework is designed to improve student performance by making learning personal—by helping schools build better relationships within the school, opening the door to learning, and helping students build a more profound and productive relationship with ideas.


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